Saturday, March 15, 2014

Trade Cards: Hearts Are Glad When Thou Dost Grow

These McCullough's trade cards are from 1888.  They are special because they are designed for the seed merchant to feature his flowers.  I more commonly find a sappy and  generic trade card from this period that seedsmen have used, or a very business like card with text only.  

I checked...the quote above isn't a quote.

Below is a sample of an off-the-shelf design that might be used by many sorts of businesses.

This Rice's card is really nice and snappy, not sappy, but I bet it was a generic blank
 to which the printer just added Rice's name.

Friday, March 14, 2014

An Alliaceous Esculent!

That title was picked off the first sentence in an 1824 article on onion growing in Great Britain.  It is so much fun to say!  Your tongue and mouth get a real workout.  To speak it aloud you needs to adopt a rather studied nonchalance.  It helps to raise one eyebrow.

The pungent rotundity of the onion images on seed packets is so captivating!  Those teensy weensy little seeds grow into wonderful heavy handfuls of yummy.

Wethersfield Connecticut is near here.  The Wethersfield onion was one of the onion superstars of the early centuries of our country.  

Great page on the Wethersfield Red has been posted by the New England Historical Society.
The Rise and Fall of the Wethersfield Red Onion

Yankee Magazine about "Oniontown".

Alien space ship onion hovering?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dreaming of the Lush Fruits of Summer

I know - there are no seeds here.  But this lush lithograph made my nose twitch in anticipation of the smell of crushed raspberries.  

And red currants!  The way the sun shines through them and they light up!!  My grandmother grew red currants along the bank next to the road. She made jelly every year.  It was so clear and brilliant red, sweet and tangy.  I'm thinking of planting some this year.  They can do fine without full sun so I might be making jelly in a year or two myself!

I live in Connecticut which has no regulations about growing currants.  Most New England states do have regulations as the currant is a host for a fungus that attacks white pines.  A very thorough UMass info sheet gives the low down on growing currants.  Excerpt below...
Ribes are a very diverse genus with hundreds of different varieties that differ in plant size and form, and fruit flavor, shape, texture, color and hairiness. While most are hardy to Zone 3 or Zone 4, a few are hardy to Zone 2. 
  • Red currants : Fruits range in color from dark red to pink, yellow, white and beige, and they continue to sweeten on the bush even after they appear to be in full color. Popular cultivars include 'Cascade', 'Detvan', 'Jonkeer van Tets', 'Red Lake', 'Rovada', 'Tatran', and 'Wilder'. Many people consider ‘Rovada’ to be the best red currant cultivar. Plants are dependable, vigorous, late ripening, and very productive, bearing long-stemmed clusters of large red berries that are easy to pick.
  • Unlike most other fruit crops, currants and gooseberries tolerate partial shade and prefer a cool, moist growing area. Northern slopes with protection from direct sun are ideal. Planting along the side of a building or shady arbor is suitable as well.      Avoid sites with poor air circulation, which increases the incidence of powdery mildew. Sloping ground alleviates this condition. Also avoid light-textured, sandy soils. Rich, well drained soils that have a high moisture holding capacity are best. Incorporate organic matter (compost, peat, or manure) to improve the soil, particularly if it is somewhat sandy. The ideal soil pH is about 6.5.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

1898 Agricultural College Seed Set

The Agricultural Colleges benefited from these seed collections proposed in 1894 and created in 1898.   This showed up on Ebay the other week.  I enjoyed looking at the common names of the weeds!  "Nimble Will" makes you think.  I live near UCONN, an original land-grant university.
(They have the best ice cream, a product of their cows and the ice cream making program.)

From Wikipedia: A land-grant university (also called land-grant college or land-grant institution) is an institution of higher education in the United States designated by a state to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890.
The Morrill Acts funded educational institutions by granting federally controlled land to the states for them to sell to raise funds to establish and endow "land-grant" colleges. The mission of these institutions as set forth in the 1862 Act is to focus on the teaching of practical agriculture, science, military science and engineering (though "without excluding ... classical studies"), as a response to the industrial revolution and changing social class. This mission was in contrast to the historic practice of higher education to focus on an abstract liberal arts curriculum.
Ultimately, most land-grant colleges became large public universities that today offer a full spectrum of educational opportunities. However, some land-grant colleges are private schools, including Cornell University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Botanical Gazette, 1894


Monday, March 10, 2014

A Riff on Seed Packets - Silly... and Repulsive

I don't like this New Yorker cover.   In fact, I find it repulsive.  Who would think a seed packet riff could seem yucky?   Maybe it's the meat?  
I expect most people find it fun, since the publisher would not use it if all the editors stuck out their tongues at it. 

What can I say?  YUCK!!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Connections: The Transatlantic Cable and Golden Ladies

I am having fun continuing my search for interesting bindings in general and ones with gilt motifs in particular.  I just found this excellent page written by Steven Baird for, where he documents the life and the business of a bookbinders tools and die maker, Samuel Dodd,  in New Jersey in the 1800s.   

The connection to my blog post that featured the gold stamped binding on Robert Buist's book is the publisher J. C. Riker.  When I followed Riker I found Dodd who supplied Riker's firm with the stamps.

Here is another of Riker's publications.  I do not know if this is a Dodd design.

Would you believe this image is from the webpage History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network19th Century Albums by John C. Riker and Other Makers?

Funny world, isn't it?:-)  To see the connection, which is very cool, visit them.  There is no link on the above page to the parent page, so here it is.

So where are the seeds, you ask?  No clue, I answer! I suppose it is part of the magic of seeds that gets us to read a bit more about the technological magic the transatlantic cable represented in 1858!